The medications that your doctor prescribes to you that you must fill at a pharmacy are typically controlled substances, meaning that medical professionals must handle their administration for the safety of the public. The potential for misuse, improper dosage or interactions among many medications means you must see a physician and then a pharmacist to access them.
Unfortunately, individual practitioners, including prescribing physicians and pharmacists, as well as facilities such as hospitals or nursing homes, can make medication errors that have devastating consequences for the people in their care. Understanding some of the more common medication issues people experience can help you better advocate for yourself and your loved one when receiving prescribed medication.
Certain drugs can react to other medications
The older you are and the more medical conditions you have, the more likely it is that you are on multiple prescription medications simultaneously. The more active compounds you take, the greater the risk for an interaction between those drugs.
Drugs can affect each other in many ways. Some compounds have synergistic effects, meaning they strengthen one another. Some medications make other drugs less effective, while other combinations of drugs can combine to produce a completely different impact on the human body than the one intended.
Your physician should carefully review your records, as should your pharmacist, to ensure that there are no risks of dangerous drug interactions when prescribing a new drug.
Giving the wrong drug or the wrong dose can happen
Pharmacists and hospital staff that administer drugs handle hundreds of pills in a single shift. Many of these pills have different colors, shapes and emblems, but mix-ups can still occur. Whether you receive the wrong medication or the wrong dose of the right drug, such a mistake could have an impact on your treatment and result in a variety of negative medical consequences.
Missing a dose could make a regimen less effective, even potentially necessitating the delay of medical procedures like surgeries, while taking the wrong pill could result in any of a number of drug interactions.
Medication errors are almost always avoidable with proper attention to detail and oversight on the part of the medical staff administering drugs and prescribing them. Patients can help protect themselves by knowing the appearance of their drugs and verifying every medication given to them before taking them.